Leeds Rhinos sign star youngsters from Widnes Vikings

Leeds Rhinos have signed teenage duo Sam Walters and Jarrod O’Connor from Widnes Vikings.

Kevin Sinfield.. Picture Tony Johnson.

Rhinos will pay an undisclosed fee for the pair who became available after the Betfred Championship side went into administration.

They are immediately available for Rhinos’ under-19s who began their season with a 56-12 win over Wakefield Trinity on Thursday.

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However, a new consortium have agreed to take over Widnes and Rhinos will consider loaning Walters and O’Connor back to their hometown club.

Second-row Walters, 18, is a hot property after impressing for England academy in last year’s Test series win against Australian Schoolboys.

Known as a hard running, tough-tackling back-rower, he signed for Widnes from Halton Farnworth Hornets and attended Sts Peter and Paul Catholic College.

Seventeen-year-old O’Connor is the son of former Great Britain international and current Sky TV pundit Terry O’Connor and played his junior rugby at Halton Farnworth Hornets, where Rhinos scrum-half Richie Myler took up the game.

A loose-forward, he attended Wade Deacon School, joined the Vikings when he was 16 and has been a regular in the club’s under-19s team over the last two years.

Rhinos director of rugby Kevin Sinfield said, “We are delighted to have agreed a deal with Widnes to secure these two young players.

“Jarrod clearly comes with a fantastic heritage in the game whilst Sam gained plenty of plaudits for his performances with England.

“They will get the chance to test themselves with our under-19 academy this season as Rob Burrow and his side look to build on last season’s Grand Final appearance.

“We are always looking to strengthen our club at every level. We have added quality to our Super League squad this season and, just as we did last season when we brought Callum McLelland back to rugby league from Scottish rugby union, we are mindful that we must continue attract the best young talent as well for our Academy.”